Jul 27, 2014

Put the White Toasts and Wheat Bread Aside, Let's Try This New Waffle Sandwich Craze at Bruxie (Irvine, CA)

The line was insane when Bruxie first opened in Southern California. People were crazy about this waffle sandwich concept - "the bold fold," says the restaurant's tag line. 



You can read all about how this popular Belgian/American waffle sandwich started by clicking the link, for sure it'll do a better job explaining the whole stories behind. As for me, I'm here to share my first dine in experience at the Irvine branch. Just to sum it up, the food was lighter and better than expected!



Located inside the Irvine Heritage Plaza close to the 5 freeway, you won't see long lines waiting outside this branch since the initial frenzy has passed. However, Bruxie can still get quite busy during lunch and dinner rush hours. Short waiting time can be expected because all the waffle sandwiches are made to order to ensure customers get hot and crisp bites every time. 



Spacious indoor dining area; there are also a few outdoor tables overseeing the parking lot.  



I had to admit that I've been reluctantly to give waffle sandwich a try, unlike the cronut craze that got me all excited when it first started. Never a big fan of waffles, it's too heavy and makes my tummy bloated easily. However, being a foodie, shredding away all the presumptions is a must, on top of that, stereotypes. So here I am, standing in line with my other girl friend ordering not just one, but three waffle sandwiches. Might as well try more varieties all at once. 



Self-serving station -



Menu, they even have waffle cut fries!? Too bad three waffle sandwiches might already hit the lunch capacity for two Asian girls -



*Click on the image for an enlarged view.

Sundaes, shakes, floats, and other drinks -



The server delightfully took down our order and handed over a pager -



The wait wasn't too bad plus we got our drinks first. Took about 10 minutes before receiving our savory waffle sandwiches. The sweet sandwich can either be served first or can be hold till you're ready for it. Just tell any of the servers and show them the receipt. They'll start making it in the kitchen. That way you'll get freshly made hot waffles from the beginning till the end. 

Ice tea and Belgian mocha -



The Belgian mocha is blended with chocolate, you can request lighter on the chocolate if less sweetened taste is preferred.

I would say the most popular savory waffle sandwich at Bruxie is the buttermilk fried chicken dressed in chili honey and cider slaw $7.5 -



It comes with the option of adding 100% pure Vermont maple syrup for extra $1. 

My very first bite of waffle sandwich, it's all yours Bruxie.

Surprisingly light and flavorful. I thought the waffle itself was going to be a heavy with chunky load of dough that'll stuck in my tummy for the rest of the day. But no, Bruxie modified the regular recipe and created burden-less and airy waffles. Even though on the website Bruxie states that the waffle is not sweet, but it does has that naturally sugary taste from the flour, and perhaps enhanced even more during the iron pressing process.



The square edges on the waffle create extra crunchiness for each bite. Chicken breast was used but not dry as regular white meat, for sure the honey dressing helps in adding moisture

Green eggs and ham $7.25 -



"Grilled ham, Tillamook cheddar, mayo, jumbo egg, arugula pesto."

This one has a more delicate flavor profile compared to the tried and true country fried chicken. The semi-cooked egg yolk is the best part, adding something comforting to this rather light waffle sandwich. Female customers might fall for this one.  

Done with the savory items, now off to sweet treat. Nutella and bananas with sweet cream $5.95 -



Who doesn't love nutella, especially when paired with ripe bananas? 



The sweet cream inside tastes like light yogurt. There's a hint of sourness, which works great in cutting down the sweetness from the nutella spread. 



Overall my first visit was a wonderful experience and the waffle itself was way better than expected. The savory items were lighter than imagined, which is not a bad thing. The sweet waffle with nutella, well, anything with nutella can never go wrong. I wouldn't mind coming back for more when craving for some comforting yet delicate lunch meal.


Cindy's rating: 7 (More like 6.5)


Bruxie (Irvine Branch)
Irvine Heritage Plaza
14376 Culver Drive
Irvine, CA 92604
(949) 556 - 4894
http://bruxie.com/

Operating hours: 
Sun - Thu from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Fri - Sat from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Jul 22, 2014

Salmon Donburi Two Ways - Straight Up Sashimi and Torched Aburi Style

Have you ever heard of Japanese oyakodon? The name "oyako" implies parents and children, that's why oyakodon's two main ingredients are chicken and chicken eggs. The recipe we're making here carries the same concept, but instead of chicken, it's salmon oyakodon using sashimi grade salmon and salmon fish roe called ikura.


Ingredients (for two)?

Sushi rice:
  • 2 cups of sushi rice or short grain rice
  • 2 tablespoons of rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt

  • 1 lb of sashimi grade salmon
  • 0.2 lb of ikura
  • 0.15 lb of black tobiko fish roe (other color works even better)
  • Some dried seaweed threads
  • Some wasabi (usually it'll come with sashimi salmon)
  • Some light soy sauce

How?

Sushi rice recipe can be found here from my previous blog post. It's a simple method for making sushi rice at home. Just remember not to overly fluff the grains to prevent the rice from turning into mochi-like texture. *Lesson learned from my mistakes.

Store bought dried seaweed threads might be hard to find. In that case, take larger pieces of dried seafood and chop into thin strips with very sharp knife, scissor works just as well.



Slice the salmon to about half inch thickness and torch half of the fish -



You'll know it's ready when the surface turned slightly burned and the smoky aburi aroma comes out -



Leave the other half the way it is -



Mix the tobiko together with ikura. The color combination actually looks better with green or yellow tobiko roe. However, I was curious about pitch black fish roe that was dyed with squid ink. As a result, the color further dimmed my orange ikura to a point of no return..

Scoop some sushi rice to a bowl. Evenly arrange the salmon slices around, one torched and one un-touched till the fish finally formed a circle (that's a lot of salmon! We are eating like kings and queens at home). Put the tobiko and ikura mixture in the center and top with dried seaweed threads. Put some wasabi on the side and serve with light soy sauce.



The tobiko and ikura mixture is on the salty side so give it a taste first before using the soy sauce. I'm sure this meal will give you a big boost in omega-3 fatty acids, which is very good for your heart!

Other similar recipe:
Festive Japanese food at home - colorful chirashi as easy as 1 2 3!

Jul 15, 2014

This Time, No Chicken Eggs, but Salted Duck Eggs for Chinese Fried Rice 鹹鴨蛋秋葵炒飯

Salted duck egg is one of the commonly used ingredients in Taiwanese cooking. It's a type of preserved product by soaking the duck eggs in highly salted water for few weeks. The eggs will then steamed, packed, and sold in grocery stores. 

You can crack the shell and serve the egg straight up, usually with porridge for breakfast. You can also crush the egg and cook in oil for few minutes to enhance the aroma. This will then be used as the base sauce or seasonings for other ingredients, the more common pairings are fried king oyster mushroom and fried shrimps.

For this recipe, I'm going to utilize the second method of cooking the salted eggs first then mix with my fried rice ingredients. It's nice to steer away from the regular chicken eggs and substitute with heavier tasting salted duck eggs once a while. 

Chinese fried rice with salted duck eggs, okra, and chicken -





Ingredients (for 3 to 4 portions)?

  • 5 chicken tenders
  • 12 okra
  • 2 salted duck eggs
  • 3 fresh red chilies plus extra for garnish
  • 1 small carrot
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 cups of steamed rice
  • 4 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
  • Small pinch of salt
  • Small pinch of freshly ground black pepper
  • Small pinch of white pepper powder
  • 1 small bundle of cilantro stems plus some leaves for garnish

How?

Cook 2 cups of white rice but use a little bit less water than usual. This way you'll get chewier freshly cooked grains, which is the texture we are looking for to use in fried rice recipe. Overnight leftover rice also works well.

Crack the duck egg shells and smash both the egg white and yolk in a small bowl. 


Remove the chili stems and finely chop the remaining. Remove the okra stems and slice the remaining. Peel and chop the onion into small square pieces. Peel and chop the carrot into tiny cubes. Discard the very bottom root of the cilantro and finely chop the remaining stems, save some leaves for garnish. Cut the chicken tender into smaller pieces, there's no need to marinate for this recipe. 

Drizzle about 2 tablespoons of oil into the pan and turn to medium heat. Add in smashed duck eggs. It'll start bubbling slightly when heated up, make sure to stir constantly to prevent from burning. Wait till the color changes to darker yellow hue and the aroma comes out then scoop to a bowl for later use. 


Drizzle another 2 tablespoons of oil into the pan and turn to medium high heat. Add in chopped onion along with small pinch of salt and small pinch of black pepper. Give it a quick stir and cook till slightly browned on the edges, about 5 minutes. Add in the chilies and cilantro stems. The stems are tougher so need to cook earlier during the process.

Transfer the carrot into the mixture and cook for 2 minutes. Once done, add in the chicken and cook for 2 minutes, then okra for another 2 more minutes. 

Pour in the duck egg paste, pour in the soy sauce along the rim of the pan, the heat will draw out more soy aroma this way. Add a little bit of white pepper powder. Give the mixture a quick stir.

Add in cooked rice and lower the heat. Gently mix the ingredients together with the rice, making sure every grain are coated with the seasoning. You can tell by looking at the color of the rice. Try to break apart any white rice chunks if there's any. 


Lastly, garnish the fried rice with some chopped chilies and cilantro leaves before serving. Noted I didn't use much salt for this recipe since the duck eggs are salty enough. However, I added just a little bit of soy sauce to boost the aroma. 

Usually I prefer to use additional seasonings when eating fried rice, such as Sriracha or homemade chili sauce, but not this time! The salted duck egg really adds lots of flavors so the fried rice is pretty good just the way it is.

Other fried rice recipe:

Sirloin fried rice with crisp red onions and a hint of Japanese seasonings
Fried rice level up - Japanese omurice recipe
Fried rice with shirasu and tuna floss